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Graham Worton holding a fossil

Sustainable Tourism and Development

The United Nations quote sustainable development as 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.

The aspiring Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark aims to promote the wider understanding of the area’s heritage including its geological, natural history and cultural heritage to encourage the development of sustainable tourism based upon that heritage for the benefit of both residents and visitors to the area.

We aim to do this by supporting and sustaining economic growth through the Geopark, encouraging and increasing visitors to the Black Country. This will contribute to the ‘multiplier effect’ where visitors to the area stay and spend in local amenities and places of interest, continuously contributing to the visitor economy of the area and sustaining local employment.

What We're Doing

One example of our commitment to sustainable tourism is working with local artisans who work in the Stourbridge Glass Quarter. They make hand made goods and sell them directly to visitors and the general public at our visitor attractions during attendance at events held in the aspiring Black Country Global Geopark that we help to promote, for example the International Festival of Glass. The Geopark also supports our local hospitality businesses such as cafes, restaurants, gift shops at and around our local geosites. We aim through the wider work of the Geopark to attract more people to use these facilities which will sustain and further develop the visitor economy through geotourism. 

Our sustainable development work is expanding further through our joint partnership working with the BC Global Geopark management team. Through this we identify potential partner businesses and business opportunities. They ensure that we are promoting awareness of the BC Geopark through activities such as displays, demonstrations, presentations and face to face interaction as well as providing many locations for people to pick up geopark information and geosites leaflets. Our tourism partners include visitor attractions, outdoor recreation partners including countryside parks, nature reserves, canals and waterways and a range of arts sector partners across the Black Country.

Black Country Global Geopark Headquarters

The newly opened BC Geopark headquarters, 'Dudley Museum at The Archives', displays some of the finest heritage of the Black Country and tells the landscape story through time. The headquarters is the starting point for visitors to explore the entire Black Country by giving them a small taste of the many heritage wonders of this amazing area, and then pointing them outwards to explore the wider Geopark. The Geopark room contains information on each of our 45 geosites and upcoming events across the Black Country. In addition, our new aspiring Black Country Global Geopark video raises awareness of the project and is available as a continual loop film at the Museum and at various places online. The new headquarters is also the focus of educational sessions to the public.

As part of our Junior’s and Adults at Museum’s events programme we offer drop in Rock and Fossil Identification sessions, formal education sessions on 'How to be a dinosaur' and various history presentations ranging from pre-history to Saxons and Vikings. In 2018, the Museum will be the focus for the Black Country's contributions to Geopark week and we will be holding Black Country Geopark awareness days here and continuing the microfossil research. We also plan to have another BC Geopark visitor information stand at Black Country Day in 2018.

Partnerships and Global Geopark Conferences

Some of our joint projects have involved working with Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Archives, Bantock House and Bilston Craft Gallery to deliver the travelling exhibition 'The Riches Beneath Us' a Black Country-specific Geopark exhibition. Also, a major 'Discovering Dinosaurs' exhibition and 'Dinosaurs Art' exhibition that was extremely popular with visitors and saw visitor numbers rocket!

Other examples of joint projects are a ‘Fossil Fuelled’ permanent exhibition at Bilston Craft Gallery in Wolverhampton.

Through our attendance at future UNESCO UK Global Geopark Conferences and International UNESCO Global Geopark Conferences, we will engage and establish further partnerships with other successful Geoparks across the world and learn from them how best to deliver sustainable tourism.

Outreach

As we continue to improve our interpretation at all of our geosites and other venues across the Black Country we will increase awareness to our local residents and visitors alike. Our joint marketing of the Global Geopark in the Black Country will expand to reach more people, both within the UK and overseas. Through these initiatives, we will raise awareness of the special heritage and engender respect and value of these world class assets which will sustain them and protect them. This will provide greater understanding of the Earth, its processes and how humans have used its resources to create the Black Country. It will also encourage people to take an interest in the environment and its protection for all future generations.  

If you are interested in becoming a partner involved in developing our sustainable geotourism we would love to hear from you. Contact us via email blackcountrygeopark@dudley.gov.uk